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15 Apr 14

A Gentile's Guide to the Jewish Holidays

Level: Gentile

• Holiday dates vary because the Jewish calendar is lunar, not solar
• Some Jews add an extra day to some holidays because of ancient tradition; some don't
• Jews expect you to know a little about Passover, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Chanukkah
• There are many other holidays, but nobody expects gentiles to know about them

I know Weinstein's parents were upset, Superintendent, but I was sure it was a phony excuse. I mean, it sounds so made up: "Yom Kippur."
- Principal Skinner, The Simpsons

If you want a general understanding of what your Jewish friends' and colleagues' holidays are, or if you just want to avoid making Principal Skinner's mistake when you schedule Jewish employees, co-workers, colleagues or students, then this is the page for you. Other pages on this site provide more detailed information about the Jewish calendar and the holidays; this page just tells you what you minimally need to know to avoid embarrassing yourself or offending Jews.

"This holiday commemorates the Exodus from Egypt. If you've seen Cecil B. DeMille's "The Ten Commandments," then you know the story of Passover, more or less. Passover is celebrated for seven or eight days (depending on your branch of Judaism) starting on the night of a full moon in April. Passover usually overlaps with Easter, though occasionally Passover occurs a month after Easter.

Almost all American Jews observe Passover to some extent, even if only to go to their parents' house for a ritual dinner (called a seder, pronounced SAY-der) on the first and/or second night of the holiday. Most (though not all) American Jews avoid bread and grain products to one extent or another throughout this holiday, in memory of the fact that our ancestors left Egypt in a hurry and didn't have time to wait for their bread to rise. You should avoid scheduling events involving food during this holiday, and should avoid scheduling travel for Jews because it may be hard for them to find suitable food away from home.

Strictly observant Jews do not work, go to school or carry out any business on the first two and last two days of Passover (first one day and last one day for some branches). This is a requirement of Jewish law; however, only about 10% of the American Jewish population observes this rule strictly. Most American Jews will work through Passover, although many may want to take time off the day before Passover, to prepare for the big family dinner. To put this in perspective: imagine if you had to work during the day of Thanksgiving, then prepare for Thanksgiving dinner after getting home from work. "

15 Apr 14

19 Israeli Delicacies That Aren’t Hummus

So everyone knows that in Israel, hummus flows almost as freely as water… but there’s way more to Israeli food than that! Borrowing flavors from the cultures that live within the state, Israeli food has people all over the world reThinking what’s for dinner. "

15 Apr 14

"We need to make our universities temples not of dogmatic orthodoxy, but of truly critical thinking.

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Ayaan Hirsi Ali
April 10, 2014 6:38 p.m. ET

On Tuesday, after protests by students, faculty and outside groups, Brandeis University revoked its invitation to Ayaan Hirsi Ali to receive an honorary degree at its commencement ceremonies in May. The protesters accused Ms. Hirsi Ali, an advocate for the rights of women and girls, of being "Islamophobic." Here is an abridged version of the remarks she planned to deliver.

One year ago, the city and suburbs of Boston were still in mourning. Families who only weeks earlier had children and siblings to hug were left with only photographs and memories. Still others were hovering over bedsides, watching as young men, women, and children endured painful surgeries and permanent disfiguration. All because two brothers, radicalized by jihadist websites, decided to place homemade bombs in backpacks near the finish line of one of the most prominent events in American sports, the Boston Marathon.

All of you in the Class of 2014 will never forget that day and the days that followed. You will never forget when you heard the news, where you were, or what you were doing. And when you return here, 10, 15 or 25 years from now, you will be reminded of it. The bombs exploded just 10 miles from this campus.
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Associate books editor Bari Weiss on Brandeis University's decision to withdraw its offer of an honorary degree to women's rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Photo credit: Associated Press.

I read an article recently that said many adults don't remember much from before the age of 8. That means some of your earliest childhood memories may well be of that September morning simply known as "9/11."

You deserve better memories than 9/11 and the Boston Marathon bombing. And you are not the only ones. In Syria, at least 120,000 people have been killed, not simply in battle, but in wholesale massacres, in a civil war that is increasingly waged across a sectarian divide. Violence is escalating in Iraq, in Lebanon, in Libya, in Egypt. And far more than was the case when you were born, organized violence in the world today is disproportionately concentrated in the Muslim world.

Another striking feature of the countries I have just named, and of the Middle East generally, is that violence against women is also increasing. In Saudi Arabia, there has been a noticeable rise in the practice of female genital mutilation. In Egypt, 99% of women report being sexually harassed and up to 80 sexual assaults occur in a single day.

Especially troubling is the way the status of women as second-class citizens is being cemented in legislation. In Iraq, a law is being proposed that lowers to 9 the legal age at which a girl can be forced into marriage. That same law would give a husband the right to deny his wife permission to leave the house.

Sadly, the list could go on. I hope I speak for many when I say that this is not the world that my generation meant to bequeath yours. When you were born, the West was jubilant, having defeated Soviet communism. An international coalition had forced Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait. The next mission for American armed forces would be famine relief in my homeland of Somalia. There was no Department of Homeland Security, and few Americans talked about terrorism.

Two decades ago, not even the bleakest pessimist would have anticipated all that has gone wrong in the part of world where I grew up. After so many victories for feminism in the West, no one would have predicted that women's basic human rights would actually be reduced in so many countries as the 20th century gave way to the 21st.
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Associated Press

Today, however, I am going to predict a better future, because I believe that the pendulum has swung almost as far as it possibly can in the wrong direction.

When I see millions of women in Afghanistan defying threats from the Taliban and lining up to vote; when I see women in Saudi Arabia defying an absurd ban on female driving; and when I see Tunisian women celebrating the conviction of a group of policemen for a heinous gang rape, I feel more optimistic than I did a few years ago. The misnamed Arab Spring has been a revolution full of disappointments. But I believe it has created an opportunity for traditional forms of authority—including patriarchal authority—to be challenged, and even for the religious justifications for the oppression of women to be questioned.

Yet for that opportunity to be fulfilled, we in the West must provide the right kind of encouragement. Just as the city of Boston was once the cradle of a new ideal of liberty, we need to return to our roots by becoming once again a beacon of free thought and civility for the 21st century. When there is injustice, we need to speak out, not simply with condemnation, but with concrete actions.

One of the best places to do that is in our institutions of higher learning. We need to make our universities temples not of dogmatic orthodoxy, but of truly critical thinking, where all ideas are welcome and where civil debate is encouraged. I'm used to being shouted down on campuses, so I am grateful for the opportunity to address you today. I do not expect all of you to agree with me, but I very much appreciate your willingness to listen.

I stand before you as someone who is fighting for women's and girls' basic rights globally. And I stand before you as someone who is not afraid to ask difficult questions about the role of religion in that fight.

The connection between violence, particularly violence against women, and Islam is too clear to be ignored. We do no favors to students, faculty, nonbelievers and people of faith when we shut our eyes to this link, when we excuse rather than reflect.

So I ask: Is the concept of holy war compatible with our ideal of religious toleration? Is it blasphemy—punishable by death—to question the applicability of certain seventh-century doctrines to our own era? Both Christianity and Judaism have had their eras of reform. I would argue that the time has come for a Muslim Reformation.

Is such an argument inadmissible? It surely should not be at a university that was founded in the wake of the Holocaust, at a time when many American universities still imposed quotas on Jews.

The motto of Brandeis University is "Truth even unto its innermost parts." That is my motto too. For it is only through truth, unsparing truth, that your generation can hope to do better than mine in the struggle for peace, freedom and equality of the sexes.

Ms. Hirsi Ali is the author of "Nomad: My Journey from Islam to America" (Free Press, 2010). She is a fellow at the Belfer Center of Harvard's Kennedy School and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

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15 Apr 14

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Jewish Times
On show
‘Holocaust’ haggadah’s cynical illustrations still bite
Arthur Szyk’s masterwork draws crowds in San Francisco where it is on display for the first time in 60 years
By Renee Ghert-Zand April 15, 2014, 10:28 am 0


Arthur Szyk The Rabbis at B’nai B’rak (detail) Lodz, 1935 Watercolor and gouache on paper The Robbins Family Collection

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Contemporary Jewish Museum

For world Jewry today, what could be a more contemporary take on the Exodus story than portraying the Egyptians as Nazis and the Hebrew slaves as European Jews? This vision, Arthur Szyk’s illumination of his Haggadah for Passover, is widely acclaimed as the famed Jewish activist artist’s masterpiece.

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First published in 1940 in London during the Battle of Britain, many around the world own a copy of one of the handful of subsequent Israeli and American editions of the book, and many more have seen reproductions of its artwork.

However, until a new exhibition at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco opened on February 13, more than 60 years had passed since the public last saw all 48 of the Haggadah’s uniquely stunning and powerful water color and gouache paintings displayed together.

Although the artwork has changed hands several times since the Polish-born Szyk’s death in 1951 in the United States, the paintings were preserved amazingly well by their various owners over the decades. But they were rarely shown publicly, and never as a complete collection.

In 2006, the paintings were purchased by Bay Area Judaica collectors Paul and Sheri Robbins, who have lent the 48 pieces, along with many other Szyk Haggadah-related artworks and documents in their collection, to the museum to mount “Arthur Szyk and The Art of the Haggadah.” The show runs through June 29."

n 1934, Szyk began work in Lodz on what would eventually become his Haggadah. With urgency, he produced the illuminated manuscript over the course of the next two years. Strapped for cash, did his small paintings on any paper at hand. On close inspection, one can see the title page of a book printed on the verso of the frontispiece of the Haggadah.
Arthur Szyk Four Sons Lodz, 1934 Watercolor and gouache on paper The Robbins Family Collection

Arthur Szyk
Four Sons
Lodz, 1934
Watercolor and gouache on paper
The Robbins Family Collection

In 1937, he moved to London and worked on getting the book published. British Jewish historian Cecil Roth acted as translator and commentator for the Haggadah, which was eventually published in 1940 by Beaconsfield Press.

Printed in a limited edition of only 250 copies on vellum, it was at the time the most expensive new book in the world, selling at $500 apiece. The Times of London called it, “a book worthy to be considered among the most beautiful of books ever produced by the hand of man.”

Szyk struggled to find a publisher for the Haggadah, as many houses balked at putting out a work so blatantly political in nature.

“Szyk lost control of the process,” notes the museum’s associate curator Lily Siegel as she pointed out letters between Szyk and various publishers displayed in a vitrine.

Szyk ended up toning down many of his illustrations. Early studies for the image showing Moses killing the Egyptian taskmaster were much bloodier and more violent in nature than the one that eventually made it in to the published book. The original illustration for the wicked son on the Four Sons page was clearly cut out and replaced (there is tape on the back of the page).

Read more: 'Holocaust' haggadah's cynical illustrations still bite | The Times of Israel
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15 Apr 14

East to the ongoing process of an Islamization of European Antisemitism carried out
by the Islamist movement. This study is a political analysis combined with a history of
ideas. Historically, there exists Judeophobia in Islam, but not Antisemitism. Based on the
research of Hannah Arendt and Bernard Lewis, a distinction is made between Judeophobia
and Antisemitism, both are evil, but to a differing degree. While Judeophobia is a hatred
calls for their eradication. This genocidal sentiment did not exist in classical Islam. The
latter. In terms of the history of ideas, the Islamization of Antisemitism can be traced back
to the work of Sayyid Qutb, the mastermind of Islamist ideology. Following the explanation
This study relates the history of ideas as background to the contemporary reality of the
fully to the Antisemitism Islamized by Qutb. Hamas combines the Islamist ideology with
Jihadist action. This paper demonstrates that the religionization of the pending issue

15 Apr 14

"Louisiana’s state flower is the magnolia. The state’s symbolic drink of choice is milk. What Louisiana is missing, however, is a state book. State lawmakers came up with a solution to that problem last week however, introducing a bill that declares the Bible as Louisiana’s book of choice.

“the state can have more than one state book, just as it has more than one official jelly.” "This is not about establishing an official religion," Carmody told the Times-Picayune.

The idea was put to the Municipal, Parochial and Cultural Affairs Committee in the state house, which approved the measure by an 8-5 vote, advancing the bill to the full House. House Bill 503 was submitted by Republican State Rep. Thomas Carmody and proclaims “there shall be an official state book” in Louisiana and “the official state book shall be the Holy Bible.”

Carmody’s choice of symbolic state sanctioned reading proved to be problematic for some Democrats on the committee, according to the Advocate. Their beef? Carmody’s selection of a King James version of the good book. Here’s how that sticking point unfolded via the Advocate:"

15 Apr 14

"There’s no reason the prohibition against consuming chametz means having to spend another Passover restricted to Manischewitz Concord, Golan Heights Cabernets, or the one-off slivovitz. A holiday that requires adults to down at least four cups of wine at the start ought to pack at least as much punch as St. Patrick’s Day, Mardi Gras, or Cinco de Mayo.

Any beverage produced from one of the five grains—barley, oats, rye, spelt, or wheat—is off the table for Passover. In practical terms, that means no beer, Bourbon, Scotch, Irish or rye whiskeys, most vodkas and gins, or any other drinks made with grain neutral sprits can be consumed during the 192 hours of Passover. Ashkenazi Jews add another layer of self-deprivation by foregoing legumes, corn, rice, and various spices.

The good news is there’s plenty of decent alcohol available for drinking over Passover.

Thirsting for a Classic Martini? There’s an app—and grain-free gin—for that. A Perfect Manhattan? Simply substitute Cognac for Bourbon. Rum and cola? Make it with Mexican Coca Cola (cane sugar instead of corn syrup) and you have a festive Ashkenazy Hebe Libre. Sake and sushi? You already know the answer.

To help make this Passover different from all others, here are ten pretty much OK for Passover cocktails, one for each of the Biblical plagues. Where ingredients with a Pesach hekhsher on the label could be found, they are listed and so designated. Also included, however, are products that are ingredient-consistent with Passover but—for want of a mashgiach’s approval—cannot be guaranteed 100 percent not to have come into direct or indirect contact with chametz or trayf. How dangerously to live will be up to you. "

15 Apr 14

"For a famous nihilist, Eric Jarosinski cuts a rather unassuming figure: He’s a young-looking 42 with delicate features and a quick smile. He is exceedingly mild-mannered, and finds it unbecoming to talk and eat at the same time (as a result, the eggs he orders at the Upper West Side restaurant where we recently shared breakfast quickly grow cold). And yet for all Jarosinski’s Wisconsin politeness in person, just the other day he admonished me, and 66,000 of my best friends: “Hate yourself like nobody’s looking. They’re not.”

The one-man brain trust behind Nein Quarterly, the anti-journal that is really “just” a Twitter feed, Jarosinksi is both a study in, and a master of, pithy contradiction. He’s a gentle Midwesterner who’s feuded publicly with Joyce Carol Oates. He’s got multiple media outlets in multiple countries interested in hiring him, but he finds the very act of writing so excruciating that he composes only on his phone. He’s a self-described “#failedintellectual,” but he’s probably done more good for the discipline of German Studies than most of the professors he’s about to leave behind.

His “compendium of utopian negation,” whose imposing logo is a cartoon of the philosopher Theodor W. Adorno mid-scowl, began with the decidedly non-utopian negation of his soon-to-be-ex career. Last year, as his pre-tenure years as an Assistant Professor of German at the University of Pennsylvania crept to a close, Jarosinski admitted to himself that he simply couldn't stand his own academic writing—definitely not anymore, but maybe never in the first place. (Perhaps he learned that the average academic treatise has an audience of three.)

As a result, he wasn’t going to finish his book in time to make tenure, if ever. “I knew what was expected of me and I didn't deliver,” he tells me in a series of admirably terse follow-up emails. “I tried and failed. It’s that simple.” He could have allowed the case to proceed and then been rejected—which, though it happens fairly often, is every scholar’s worse nightmare. Instead, he submitted this one-sentence email: “I would like to withdraw from consideration for tenure.”"

14 Apr 14

"What Milgram’s Shock Experiments Really Mean
Replicating Milgram's shock experiments reveals not blind obedience but deep moral conflict
Oct 16, 2012 |By Michael Shermer

In 2010 I worked on a Dateline NBC television special replicating classic psychology experiments, one of which was Stanley Milgram's famous shock experiments from the 1960s. We followed Milgram's protocols precisely: subjects read a list of paired words to a “learner” (an actor named Tyler), then presented the first word of each pair again. Each time Tyler gave an incorrect matched word, our subjects were instructed by an authority figure (an actor named Jeremy) to deliver an electric shock from a box with toggle switches that ranged in 15-volt increments up to 450 volts (no shocks were actually delivered). In Milgram's original experiments, 65 percent of subjects went all the way to the end. We had only two days to film this segment of the show (you can see all our experiments at, so there was time for just six subjects, who thought they were auditioning for a new reality show called What a Pain!"

14 Apr 14

The Crux

« Why We Like to See Bad Things Happen to Famous People Are Dolphins Not as Smart as We Thought? »
The Shocking Truth of the Notorious Milgram Obedience Experiments
By Guest Blogger | October 2, 2013 9:22 am
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By Gina Perry

14 Apr 14

"In the early 1960s, Stanley Milgram, a social psychologist at Yale, conducted a series of experiments that became famous. Unsuspecting Americans were recruited for what purportedly was an experiment in learning. A man who pretended to be a recruit himself was wired up to a phony machine that supposedly administered shocks. He was the "learner." In some versions of the experiment he was in an adjoining room.

The unsuspecting subject of the experiment, the "teacher," read lists of words that tested the learner's memory. Each time the learner got one wrong, which he intentionally did, the teacher was instructed by a man in a white lab coat to deliver a shock. With each wrong answer the voltage went up. From the other room came recorded and convincing protests from the learner — even though no shock was actually being administered.

The results of Milgram's experiment made news and contributed a dismaying piece of wisdom to the public at large: It was reported that almost two-thirds of the subjects were capable of delivering painful, possibly lethal shocks, if told to do so. We are as obedient as Nazi functionaries.

Or are we? Gina Perry, a psychologist from Australia, has written Behind the Shock Machine: The Untold Story of the Notorious Milgram Psychology Experiments. She has been retracing Milgram's steps, interviewing his subjects decades later.

"The thought of quitting never ... occurred to me," study participant Bill Menold told Perry in an . "Just to say: 'You know what? I'm walking out of here' — which I could have done. It was like being in a situation that you never thought you would be in, not really being able to think clearly.""

13 Apr 14

"I wonder how many fewer copies French author Bénédicte Martin's book La femme would have sold had her publishers opted for a subtler, more abstract cover design. The image they chose to illustrate her disquisition of "Woman 2013" is a striking chimera: the top half an improbably busty woman, the lower half a knife. It was the top half that Apple objected to when they removed it from the iTunes store, devotedly obeying Steve Jobs's dictum, "no porn on the iPhone". Martin's publishers were furious, denouncing it as "an act of censorship that went against creative freedom". Even the French culture minister got involved.

People are quick to cry "censorship" when a faceless corporation does something against their liking. I once interviewed a writer of what might kindly be described as paranormal romance, who was upset that Apple had taken her books out of the romance section and labelled them as erotica, which meant they were harder to browse and didn't show up on bestseller lists. In her eyes, Apple had "censored" her art."

13 Apr 14

"Richard Hoggart. 'My life was changed by The Uses of Literacy in 1957,' writes Nicholas Jacobs. Photograph: Eamonn Mccabe for the Guardian

Your obituary of Richard Hoggart (10 April) remarked on his decision to become warden of Goldsmiths College that "As a close to a career, it was a diminuendo". This is to misunderstand both the man and the place. Some people make a point of moving to the most prestigious institution that makes them an offer in the expectation its grandeur will rub off on them. Others improve and expand the place they are in to make it match their ambitions. This was more like Richard Hoggart's role when I knew him as warden of Goldsmiths in the 1970s and 80s. He expanded the institution out of recognition with the application of his restless energy, intellectual rigour, exceptional contacts and many hours in committee work which is essential but all too often under-appreciated in public life.


13 Apr 14

"In the latest installment of the hot sauce apocalypse saga, officials in California have declared the production of Sriracha hot chili sauce a public nuisance and are threatening to shut it down forever. The announcement was a long time coming — back in October, residents of Irwindale, the California town where sriracha is produced. were complaining of irritated eyes, headaches and sore throats, due to emissions from the factory. In November, the city council ordered the Huy Fong Foods plant, the company that makes the iconic sauce, to shut down. "

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